Mary,full of grace.

Our neighbor, Mary Lea Burden, passed away last night–much to our shock. 

We are terribly sad today to look over at her kitchen window and know she is gone.  Together we had revived an old tradition she had had with her longtime neighbor, Sam, whose house we now occupy, of looking for each other through our windows and waving hello.  If we forgot to raise our bedroom shade, the next time she saw us she’d ask if we were OK.  She was just like that–thoughtful.  Sweet.  The Grandmother we had been without for too long.

She was grace.  And class.  And pride.

Mary was of that generation where you wore nice clothes to run errands.  She delighted in her daily walks.  And her geramiums.  And her tomatoes.  We introduced her to pesto.  She brought us slices of pie from the church bake sale.   We had a beer together at our favorite watering hole.  A sweet, symbiotic relationship–the way neighbors used to be.  And I miss her already. 

Even our cat, Charles, had a special relationship with Mary.  He wanted to live at her house.  So often he would go over and sit at her door and meow, wanting to be let in.  And he did sneak in one day.  But more often than not, Mary would see him and come sit on the porch steps to give him his required attention.  She thought he was a girl, but Charles didn’t seem to mind.

This summer, when we painted our picket fence, Mary insisted on helping.  I had been threatening to start for a week and she looked for me out the window several days in a row.  When she saw the supplies come out of the garage, she was out the door–paintbrush in hand.  She confided later that she was happy to see me rent the power sprayer to do the second coat.  Some of us just take longer to come to solutions–she knew it all along.

Doing a favor for Mary, was like pulling teeth.  We’d head to the grocery store and call to see if she needed anything and she’d say no.  Then the next day we’d spy her coming in the door with a shopping bag.  Gradually, we wore her down and she’d let us pick up the occasional item.  That insistence on doing for herself kept her going.  Gave her something to look forward to.  And kept us in awe.

We will miss her greatly.


4 Responses to “Mary,full of grace.”

  1. What a lovely tribute! I forgot that she thought Charles is a girl. She thinks Elica is a boy because she’s a big dog. She said “that’s the first big dog I’ve ever seen who sleeps in the house at night.”

  2. What sweet, kind, touching words. I’ve known “Momo” (that’s what the grandkids call her) for 15 years. Married to her grandson and now living in Texas, we didn’t get to see Momo as often as we wanted to. But we still talked to her on a regular basis. When we lived in Bellingham we visited her often for dinner, coffee, or to watch a game. Momo loved her sports, whether it was the Sonics, Mariners, Seahawks, or her beloved Huskies. She was an avid and lifelong Huskies fan. Went to every game this year. Planned on going to every one next year too.

    I just talked to Momo the other day. I called to get her chocolate cream pie recipe that was so divine. Whenever we came home to visit she always made one special for me and got a kick out of it when I had a slice right then and another one for breakfast.

    Momo was a lovely lady, and like you said, fiercely independent and awe inspiring. She was deeply loved by this whole family and will be just as deeply missed.

    We will be flying home to say our goodbyes to Momo and look forward to seeing you at the services.

    Ryan and Torri

  3. Mary Lea is my grandma, Momo. She meant so much to me and along with my grandpa ‘Pampi’ (you may have heard of him as Bunk) had a tremendous influence on my life… I cannot yet fathom she is gone and really just want to walk in her back door and give her a hug and a kiss like usual.

    I’m sure you know that she was very pleased and excited to have you as neighbors and friends. She spoke of you often. I want to thank you for looking after her so well. I’m certain you enjoyed it though. Momo was always good company. Easy to talk to… fun to have a beer with.

    I wish I had thought of the sprayer when I painted that same fence 20+ years ago. I remember it taking a looong time, but there was sunshine and Momo made sure I had plenty to eat and drink… so it was worth it!

    Momo, I’m truly heartbroken to let you go, but very grateful and thankful to have spent so much time with you. I have many great memories. Some of the best of my life.


  4. Mary Lea Burden was my grandmother and her late husband ” Bunk Buredn ” my grand father. It is with much happiness that I was blessed to have had Momo sa my grandomther and dear friend. We shared so many many great times together. I cannot list them all here or go in to detail on what a impact she had on my life and my future years ahead. Since i could remember we did so many fun things , traveled to Hawaii, Palm Springs, The San Juan Islands, Canadian Gulf Islands, caught a 50 lb salmon together in the early mourning blackness in our pajama’s, celebrated many unforgetable holidays, attended Husky football games since I was 6 years old, shared memories of her and my grandfathers journey in life, so many special caring talks that helped me through my life and always will. Momo also was so determined and independent in the way she conducted her life. She was the most thoughtful and helpful to anyone who needed help. She loved sports and I can always her her yelling ‘get em get em!! She will be missed dearly… My Daughter Taylor Lea Brown 4 1/2 years old loved her GG as she called her so much. She told me that GG is now in heaven and she will always be happy there. She then asked me when we could go see her and play again at her house. It will take time for her to understand. These are the same feelings I had when I was young and spent time with her and now understand just how special she was to so many people especially her family. My Daughter and I were able to spend three days with her over Thanksgiving and we had a wonderful time together. Thank you for being such great neighbors to her and I knew you had a eye on her because she always had an eye on you 🙂 Life is short yet Mary Lea Burden lived 90 years worth of happiness with her family and close friends. She leaves with me some of the best times in my life. Momo, GG, Mary Lea Burden we love you and will miss u.. Love Rex

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